Ms. Kathryn Ames inspires with courage and strength

by Molly Nichols ‘23 

Regis Jesuit is a community full of love, laughter, and most of all, support. Kathryn Ames, Boys Division counselor and Girls Lacrosse head coachis often the one providing that support, but this past year, she was on the receiving end during her battle with cancer.  

 In early March 2020, around the same time the pandemic took hold, Ames was diagnosed with cancer. The cancer was presented on a routine scan and came as a surprise to her and her family as the condition was not hereditary. The timing with Covid made treatment options tricky and procedures complicated. 

 After opting for an extreme surgery on March 13, 2020, Ames decided to make some large-scale household changes. Since a significant percentage of new cancer cases are being traced back to environmental factors, rather than just genetic history, she changed her diet to vegan and switched to more natural products. 

“I made a lot of changes in my own health, so that moving forward I can work more easily to be cancer free,” says Ames. 

The journey has allowed her to more about her condition and other conditions that are similar. She hopes more research will be done to determine the significance of environmental factors and thus give as much emphasis on the prevention of cancer as towards a cure.  

Given the time to make changes, Ames adjusted her mindset; some being the importance of learning how to take a break, healthy ways to vent, and the effect of stress on your health. 

 “I’ve always been a doer that is always go, go, go, and it’s okay to slow down and prioritize,” she says. “I’ve been given clarity on what matters, people get so wrapped up in checking the boxes and fitting the mold.” 

She stresses the importance of asking for help when needed is for those struggling, creating boundaries, and learning when you need to say no for the well-being of yourself and staying calm. 

“I feel like life is so short, and you really got to follow your passions,” Ames explains. “I started to realize what really mattered to me over this time.” 

Being faced with a situation that can be life or death creates a space for people to feel grief, depression, and fear. Kathryn Ames felt all these emotions upon learning about her diagnosis, as well as COVID-19 mandates that required her to sit through surgeries and doctor’s appointments by herself.  

Going through all the emotions upon learning about her diagnoses, a colleague encouraged her to reach out and ask for the help she was not sure she needed. She received the help she needed from the Girls lacrosse team and Gonzaga Circle of Support, a group at RJ that provides families with groceries, homemade dinners, donations, gift cards, and any other needs during times of struggle.  

Ames worked hard to unpack the denial and grief to work towards being vulnerable enough to ask for the assistance, but this safety net, she says, gave her strength and alleviated stress in a difficult time. 

“Life can change in a heartbeat, struggle can be a part of that journey,” she says. “And it’s a really beautiful thing when people want to help you, and you’re open to the help.” 

She hopes that her story inspires others and lets them know they can get through their struggles as she has overcome hers.  

“I’m a fighter, I’ve always been a fighter,” Ames explains. “I knew that I wasn’t going to sit in self-pity, even if I spent a few days in tears.”  

All the insights gleaned from this past year are fueling her life and work, bringing her joy and wisdom to her family, students, and athletes.   

“I don’t think my time is done; I have so much left to do.”